OBJECTIVES: This narrative review aimed to understand and evaluate the level of in-depth breast cancer knowledge in terms of clinical breast examination and breast self-examination, and other important aspects such as side-effects and risk factors in Malaysian females. Since Malaysia is multicultural, this review assessed social perceptions, cultural beliefs and help-seeking behaviour in respect to breast cancer among different ethnic groups, since these may impinge on efforts to 'avoid' the disease.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A comprehensive literature search of seven databases was performed from December 2015 to January 2015. Screening of relevant published journals was also undertaken to identify available information related to the knowledge, perception and help-seeking behaviour of Malaysian women in relation to breast cancer.
RESULTS: A total of 42 articles were appraised and included in this review. Generally, women in Malaysia had good awareness of breast cancer and its screening tools, particularly breast self-examination, but only superficial in-depth knowledge about the disease. Women in rural areas had lower levels of knowledge than those in urban areas. It was also shown that books, magazines, brochures and television were among the most common sources of breast cancer information. Delay in presentation was attributed mainly to a negative social perception of the disease, poverty, cultural and religion practices, and a strong influence of complementary and alternative medicine, rather than a lack of knowledge.
CONCLUSIONS: This review highlighted the need for an intensive and in-depth breast cancer education campaigns using media and community health programmes, even with the existing good awareness of breast cancer. This is essential in order to avoid misconceptions and to frame the correct mind-set about breast cancer among women in Malaysia. Socio-cultural differences and religious practices should be taken into account by health care professionals when advising on breast cancer. Women need to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of breast cancer so that early diagnosis can take place and the chances of survival improved.
METHODS: A single-blind randomized controlled trial was carried out among 370 female undergraduate students from January 2011 to April 2012 in two selected public universities in Malaysia. Participants were randomized to either the intervention group or the control group. The educational program was delivered to the intervention group. The outcome measures were assessed at baseline, 6, and 12 months after implementing the health educational program. Chi-square, independent samples t-test and two-way repeated measures ANOVA (GLM) were conducted in the course of the data analyses.
RESULTS: Mean scores of knowledge on breast cancer (p<0.003), knowledge on breast self examination (p<0.001), benefits of BSE (p<0.00), barrier of BSE (0.01) and confidence of BSE practice (p<0.00) in the intervention group had significant differences in comparison with those of the control group 6 and 12 months after the intervention. Also, among those who never practiced BSE at baseline, frequency of BSE practice increased 6 and 12 months after the intervention (p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: The Breast Health Awareness program based on health the belief model had a positive effect on knowledge of breast cancer and breast self-examination and practice of BSE among females in Malaysia.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The ANZCTR clinical trial registry ( ACTRN12616000831482 ), retrospectively registered on Jun 23, 2016 in ANZCTR.org.au.
DESIGN: A qualitative interview study with thematic analysis of transcripts.
PARTICIPANTS: 67 patients with self-discovered breast symptoms were included in the analysis. Of these, 36% were of Malay ethnicity, 39% were Chinese and 25% Indian, with an average age of 58 years (range 24-82 years). The number of women diagnosed at early stages of cancer almost equalled those at advanced stages. Approximately three-quarters presented with a painless lump, one-quarter experienced a painful lump and 10% had atypical symptoms.
SETTING: University hospital setting in Singapore and Malaysia.
RESULTS: Patients revealed barriers to early presentation not previously reported: the poor quality of online website information about breast symptoms, financial issues and the negative influence of relatives in both countries, while perceived poor quality of care and services in state-run hospitals and misdiagnosis by healthcare professionals were reported in Malaysia. The pattern of presentation by ethnicity remained unchanged where more Malay delayed help-seeking and had more advanced cancer compared to Chinese and Indian patients.
CONCLUSIONS: There are few differences in the pattern of presentation and in the reported barriers to seek medical care after symptom discovery between Singapore and Malaysia despite their differing economic status. Strategies to reduce delayed presentation are: a need to improve knowledge of disease, symptoms and causes, quality of care and services, and quality of online information; and addressing fear of diagnosis, treatment and hospitalisation, with more effort focused on the Malay ethnic group. Training is needed to avoid missed diagnoses and other factors contributing to delay among health professionals.